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Jonah: When the Wolves are able to establish a tempo in the first quarter by feeding Nikola Pekovic the ball when he has the position, they are a really, really good team. Everyone is able to take Pek’s momentum and spacing and turn it into to points themselves. That’s what happened in the first quarter of tonight’s game. The Wolves were able to find Pek in spots he needed the ball the most, and he did a fairly good job of making the move and converting. Gotta love that positivity out of the half court offense.
Tom: Man, I don’t know. Love wasn’t putrid from the free throw line, even with a hand brace? It’s almost more depressing looking for positives in this mess.
Derek: (Edit: I didn’t deliberately leave this blank, I really just forgot.) Nobody got hurt!
Jonah: Two games in a row the Wolves have won the first half and lost the second. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that they don’t know how to play with a lead or if the adjustments made at halftime — if there are any — just aren’t there or being executed properly but it’s embarrassing. They’ve shown how good of a team they can be, so prove it in all four quarters, not just two.
Tom: The worst thing about these past two games has been the pigeon-holing of Andrei Kirilenko. He went from all-important super-performer to 3-9 role player in a matter of two games. He is being criminally underutilized, and it’s incredibly frustrating. I understand that now Love is back, Kirilenko is bound to grab fewer rebounds and score fewer baskets, but when your MVP of the first few weeks of the season looks awkward, uncomfortable and unsure of his role, you are doing something wrong. Kirilenko looks awkward and uncomfortable. The Timberwolves are doing something wrong.
Derek: I can only pick one? The Wolves let a lead slip away to a team that shot 44% from the line, they out-rebounded, and that had LaMarcus Aldridge sit out much of the second half with foul trouble. But, whatever, I’ll just ask this: what’s three out of eighteen? Yes, 16.7%– or the Timberwolves’ percentage from deep tonight. Because the best way to stop your opponent’s run and begin a comeback is to take as many low-percentage shots as possible, especially when you can’t make them.
Jonah: Starting shooting guard, Malcolm Lee, has taken his fair share of criticism throughout the year thus far. Since being thrust into the starting spot, he hasn’t performed well, most notably on the offensive end. Well tonight was a different story. Tonight he was able to make plays and even hit his open shots, all you really ask for out of a player of his caliber. But the troubling part was that Lee found himself in the position he’s in now because of his defense, and that’s what really let him down tonight. Lee and the Wolves’ backcourt were just torched by Wesley Matthews for 30 points, 12-17 shooting, five-of-six from beyond the arc., and Damien Lillard, who had 28. It’s simply unacceptable that mediocre wing players like Matthews can have such huge games against the Wolves — Lillard’s a different story, mostly because dude’s just a stud. Lee needs to check himself before he finds the bench quickly yet again.
Tom: In Minnesota’s generally broken, confused offensive sets, only one player off the bench seemed to be anything resembling productive: newcomer Josh Howard. This doesn’t count as a positive. I would posit that it points to how confused the offense has looked over the past two games that the newcomer who just shows up and plays is the most effective. I’ll repeat: On that super deep, talented bench, Josh Howard was most effective. There is no order in this world.
Derek: Thanks to @Peter_987 for pointing this out, but Alexey Shved had 3 assists in 16 minutes, and the Ridnour-Barea tandem COMBINED for 3 in 51 minutes. And then the Timberwolves’ one-man broadcasting army, Alan Horton, mentioned that Blazers’ starting backcourt of Lillard and Matthews combined for 58 points, 11 assists on 68% FG (9/14 from 3) and only 2 TO’s in 77 minutes. Between the collective performances of Barea-Ridnour-Shved and Lillard’s exhibition tonight, I think we’re seeing the importance of Ricky Rubio’s leadership and defense. Fortunately, it sounds like Rubio may not be that far away.
Notes: Another game, another DNP-CD recorded by the former second overall pick, Derrick Williams. I still believe it’s temporary as Adelman works out the lineup kinks, but I also believe that Williams’ days may be numbered in the end. His benchings aren’t intentional in terms of seeking a trade but it’s a definite possibility we hear of more rumors as time flies by. Also seeing his first DNP-CD was Greg Stiemsma, who has played like a steaming pile of hot garbage since posting a career game against the Orlando Magic on November 7.
Next up: The Wolves continue their tour out West and take on the Golden State Warriors, yet again, tomorrow night.